Spain’s banks need €59.3bnin capital to survive crisis

Spanish banks will need a total of €59.3bn in extra capital to ride out a serious economic downturn, an independent report said yesterday, removing a major obstacle in the way of an international bailout for Madrid.

Spain said around €40bn of the total will come as European aid while the rest could be raised by the banks themselves.

The audit, carried out by consultant Oliver Wyman, is a condition of getting European funds to patch up Spanish banks damaged by a prolonged property crash, and identifies which banks need more capital and precisely how much each requires.

Spain has agreed a credit line that could provide up to €100bn in EU rescue funds for its banks.

“The preliminary estimate of the final amount we would need to tap from the €100bn lifeline would be one third less than the capital shortfall identified by Oliver Wyman,” Bank of Spain deputy governor Fernando Restoy said at a press conference.

Both the strict 2013 budget presented by the government of prime minister Mariano Rajoy on Thursday and the audit of 90% of Spain’s banking system are necessary steps for Madrid to request sovereign aid and trigger a ECB bond-buying programme.

The “adverse economic scenario” the audit was based on is fast becoming reality in Spain as spending cuts and tax hikes throttle any recovery in the eurozone’s fourth largest economy, driving up unemployment and prompting growing unrest.

Spain has replaced Greece, Ireland and Portugal as the main threat to the survival of the euro currency project.

The audit results were in line with market expectations and were applauded by the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF.

“That’s another layer of uncertainty that’s off the table,” said David Schnautz, rate strategist at Commerzbank. “We got the budget yesterday and today the stress tests and now we’re all keen to hear what the ratings agencies’ view will be.”

Rating agency Moody’s is due to review Spain’s debt grade before Monday. It currently has Spain on one notch above junk with a negative outlook.

The audit identified the bulk of capital needs at the four banks which have already been rescued by the Spanish government.

The worst case is Bankia (BKIA.MC), the result of an ill-fated, seven-way merger which was taken over by the government earlier this year.

The capital shortfall for these banks is €49bn, with Bankia accounting for half of that. The European Commission said the exact aid needed for each bank would be determined in the coming months.

— Reuters

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